Originally created 08/17/99

Son of South Korean IOC member defends his name



SALT LAKE CITY -- The son of a powerful International Olympic Committee member from South Korea said Monday he plans to sue a Utah businessman for "false testimony" to federal investigators.

John Kim denied that David Simmons, former director of a Salt Lake communications firm, set up a sham job to help Kim obtain legal residency in the United States.

Kim said in a statement issued through a family spokesman in New York that he returned his green card to the U.S. embassy in Seoul on Aug. 6, "thereby voluntarily abandoning its privileges."

"I took this action in response to speculation regarding my motives, past and present, for permanent resident status in the U.S.," Kim said. "What was legitimate from the outset suddenly became `fraudulent' because of David Simmons' false testimony."

Simmons pleaded guilty in federal court Aug. 3 to misdemeanor tax evasion. It was the first criminal case stemming from investigations of vote-buying to help Salt Lake City win the 2002 Winter Olympics.

His testimony was seen as an initial step as investigators build a case against higher-ranking Olympic officials.

Kim said federal investigators made "what many might consider an offer that I can't refuse," but he rejected it.

"Although I am willing to cooperate with the Justice Department, I shall not yield to intimidation despite assurances that I can get a `slap on the wrist' in exchange for testimony against their target," Kim said.

James Holbrook, Simmons' attorney in Salt Lake City, said late Monday neither he nor his client has been served with papers from Kim and denied Kim's allegation.

"Mr. Simmons has provided truthful information to the Department of Justice and will continue to do so," Holbrook said.

Simmons told investigators he hired John Kim, the son of IOC vice president Kim Un-yong, one of the most influential IOC members, at the request of the Salt Lake bid committee.

Later, Simmons claimed as a business expense the money funneled to him to pay the younger Kim's salary at Keystone Communications.

Simmons said he used fake contracts and phony invoices to conceal the fact that John Kim's salary was being paid by the Salt Lake City Olympic Bid Committee.

"If that is true, why then did he commit major resources, time and money, for several business trips in the company of associates to Korea, based on our business relationship?" Kim asked.

Kim said he knew nothing of the salary arrangement between SLOC and Keystone. Kim also said he rejected SLOC payments, including one for $10,000, and turned down an SLOC offer for consulting work.